Ryan Murray could have easily been a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

In fact, if consensus among the Oilers scouting staff had their way, the talented defenceman would be in his first season with the club, having suffered a shoulder injury last year.

Yet ownership overruled the scouts and the Oilers selected Nail Yakupov first overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, making Murray available to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

They took Murray second overall, and early on, are delighted with his progress.

“He’s done a great job, he’s come in and looks beyond his years with his maturity level out on the ice,” said Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards. “There are still growing pains, still youthful mistakes, but he’s a real smart, heady player and you can see the intelligence as far as getting himself in the right spot to make plays.”

Heading into Tuesday’s game against Yakupov and the Oilers, Murray has two goals and two assists in 20 games for the Blue Jackets. He’s averaging just under 19 minutes of ice time and has a plus-three rating for the season.

“He’s earned the responsibility of just getting thrown into the fire,” said Richards. “We’ve given him more responsibility because he’s earned it. We’ve given him some power-play time and some penalty-killing time. I think as a young player, it doesn’t really matter what position they play, sometimes as a coach you hold back a little bit, because you want their five-on-five play to be solid first.

“But Ryan is a plus-player for us, so you know he’s defending well. He plays a lot with (James) Wisniewski and he’s done a good job with him. They complement each other well.”

The Oilers thought long and hard about Murray, knowing the Regina, Sask., product was capable of developing into an elite defenceman.

Murray made a brief visit to Edmonton prior to the draft to meet with the Oilers brass, including owner Daryl Katz.

Yet heading into the draft, he was not certain which way the Oilers were going to go.

“I didn’t know anything before the draft, nobody told me a thing,” Murray said. “I was sitting there and it went right down to the wire waiting for my name to be called.

“No team told me anything. I hear some guys get told when they’re going to be taken, but there was nothing, I didn’t know.”

The Blue Jackets were always going to take Murray if the Oilers passed on him first overall. They reportedly turned down an offer for all of the New York Islanders picks in the draft in order to stay at the second overall spot to take him.

Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, however, they had to wait to get Murray in the lineup, due to the lockout, then a season-ending shoulder injury suffered in junior playing with the Everett Silvertips.

“I was out so long last year, just being able to play hockey again is awesome,” Murray said. “Being able to play in the NHL is even better, it’s exciting.